It was such a good decision to have a whole week to ease back into “German reality” before going back to work.
After being picked up from the airport and driving home I noticed the probably biggest change in Frankfurt over the last four months: our landlord managed to get the hole in our gate fixed – after 3 years!!! That’s even bad for African time 😉
When opening the door to my apartment I was surprised to find my parcel from Cape Town with all my Namibian souvenirs since I posted it to my parents’ house but obviously the German post office mixed up sender and recipient – good thing though I didn’t put a South African address on there.
The first thing I enjoyed was a nice shower – couldn’t handle a hot one though since it was 35°C here which made it so much easier to enjoy coming back home. But I have to say it’s a great feeling not having to take all your clothes and stuff to the shower and worry that you might have lost your panties on the way to the shower or drop your clean shirt in the shower. Also getting out of the shower and not being dusty again right away is awesome! In Mayana I was asked what I missed the most. Food? TV? WiFi? Chocolate? And I remember answering: my apartment and having everything in place. So it’s good to be back home!
Once I got to enjoy all those amenities again though I have to say I was shocked by the size of my place – like a year and a half ago I was really thinking about moving to a bigger place – and all the stuff I own. When opening my closet I was overwhelmed by all the T-shirts, dresses and jeans I have in there. And since I haven’t been wearing most of it in a long time anyways, I decided to clean out my closet and am now storing two big IKEA-bags on top of my closet to take back to Mayana one day.
Before I left for Africa I of course had to clean out my fridge and pantry and I was sure that I couldn’t live of bubbly and Mrs. H.S. Ball’s chutney very long, so I had some serious shopping to do. Shopping in our supermarket was not too different to African supermarkets but while putting stuff in my cart I was all worried about getting too much things and wasting them in the end – something I had never even thought about before non-the-less feeling guilty when tossing rotten veggies. When I got to the cashier I wanted to use my debit card to pay but of course I couldn’t remember the pin. Although I had saved it on my phone I kept putting it in wrong. I apologized to the cashier and asked her to pay with credit card – she just gave me a look and I could hear the people behind me sighing in annoyance. In Africa it happend a million times to me that paying with card was a problem because the machine was not charged or there was no connection, I had to switch cashiers, swipe my card several times or they had to get a machine from another counter but never anyone complained that I was holding others up. And seriously it maybe took like 10 extra seconds to switch to credit card…
Besides running errands I did a lot of catching up with family and friends near and far. I very much enjoyed meeting and chatting to friends who had recently been in similar situations or who truly were interested in my experiences. Thanks for being curious, sharing your thoughts and giving advice on how to adjust – especially thanks to Theresa for getting my Savanna fix – that really helped to adjust and not missing Africa too much. 😉
Although it was nice to run into familiar faces again I was a little irritated by some of the questions I got. Good thing Theresa also shared her Top-5 questions she got when returning after sabbatical leave with me early, so I could think of how to answer in advance.
So, how was it?
What was the most disturbing/incredible/best experience?
Where did you like it the best?
Would you do it again?
Do you reget doing it?
“So, how was it?” is the hardest one to answer because I experienced so much that is so different to our life here and I just can’t come up with a better answer than “good” because I feel that most of the times people are not willing to make time for having a 5 hrs conversation. This one is most likely to be followed by “Would you do it again?” or “Do you regret doing it?”. Also two questions that I can’t just answer in a small talk conversation. The answer would just have to be so much more profound than yes or no. After just one week I already have a few more to add to the list 😉
During this week I noticed how much I had really changed and how my values have been readjusted- there are so many things that seem so irrelevant to me now and I could care less about which used to play a major role in my life. I know that some things will be put into perspective one day again, others might continue to be non-relevant but until then I feel that it will still be a long way until that day and probably I will be struggling and be torn more than once along that way.
This is also probably one of my biggest fears when returning back to work and to my job that everything I do there will now just seem so insignificant and pointless – but maybe it also helps to not get myself worked up about the small things and get some perspective on my former work ethics. I am still excited though to go back to work tomorrow, to see my colleagues and workmates and to find out how the different assignments, jobs and projects have been push forward and which progress has been made over the past 4 months. A friend told me though that he was gone for 2 years and when he returned it was still same old same old 😉